Burton films ranked

by fireof1989 | created - 28 Aug 2011 | updated - 24 Sep 2011 | Public

Pretty self explanatory, and probably not the only list like it. Still; I feel like throwing my opinion into the ring, and as always I actually justify my reasons for the list for those who actually care. Feel free to share your thoughts and blah blah. So yeah - Tim Burton, I have a love/hate relationship with him but I think most people do.


Don't ask where Nightmare Before Christmas is. Don't get me wrong, I love that flick - but I am only counting films Burton himself directed and since Henry Sellick helmed that little number while Burton was off making "Batman Returns" I am not counting it.

Also, don't ask where Edward Scissorhands is either. This may shock you - but I have not seen it yet. Seriously. I want to, but I often find myself deep in other movies that distract me; though now that I have caught up with the times and have a Netflix account, it might show up on my list of views soon and when it does - I will rank it.

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1. Beetlejuice (1988)

PG | 92 min | Comedy, Fantasy

69 Metascore

When a recently-deceased ghost couple find their now-vacant home invaded by an obnoxious family, they hire a sleazy ghost who gets rid of humans to help them.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton, Annie McEnroe

Votes: 216,306 | Gross: $73.71M

I cannot stress how much I love this film. In the technicalities, there are other Burton films that may be better on that level - but this is, simply put, my favourite Burton film and one of my all time favourites. I adored this movie ever since I was a kid and it was my entry point into dark humour and even inspired my love of horror with a "PG" rated way of discovering the genre since I was pretty darn young when I saw this. Today still, I love this movie to bits and it always puts a smile on my face; and the music, visuals, and story are all very entertaining and creative.

2. Big Fish (2003)

PG-13 | 125 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

58 Metascore

A frustrated son tries to determine the fact from fiction in his dying father's life.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange

Votes: 377,742 | Gross: $66.26M

It was hard to pick the #2 when considering the next film on the list; but this won out because it's a bit more original and because on the technical level, I feel this is Burton's most accomplished film. He's often known for his great visuals and nowadays, some argue that's all he has left up his sleeve - but Big Fish manages to supply those wonderful eye pleasing visuals and actually providing a genuinely excellent film to go with it. I do have a few gripes with the ending, but I get so caught up in the rest of the picture that I often ignore it.

3. Ed Wood (1994)

R | 127 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

70 Metascore

Ambitious but troubled movie director Edward D. Wood Jr. tries his best to fulfill his dreams, despite his lack of support.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette

Votes: 152,593 | Gross: $5.89M

When I express my interest in making films, I often bring up Ed Wood - and I get weird looks. No, I am not aspiring to be like one of the most notoriously bad directors on the planet - I aspire to have the passion that he had, with the technical prowess on display from Burton in the film of the same name. This film is entertainment on many levels, it looks great (Unless you hate Black & White) and it also shows that Ed Wood was at least a very interesting and likable person (Presuming the film is historically accurate) despite the negative denotation often (and accurately - as much as I love some of his films as Z-Grade hilarity) slated upon him as one of the worst filmmakers out there. Like Big Fish, this is easily one of Burton's most acomplished films and also like Big Fish - the excellent design and visuals actually converge with a truly wonderful story with interesting people, and this is all coming from someone who rarely cares for "True Story" pictures.

4. Sleepy Hollow (1999)

R | 105 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

65 Metascore

Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitations of 3 people with the culprit being the legendary apparition, the Headless Horseman.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon

Votes: 293,225 | Gross: $101.07M

I'm sure a lot of people will look at me funny for ranking this so high on the list; most Burton fans I know do like this film, but don't see it as one of his best and might scoff at the idea of me putting it above a couple of his films that in many ways, are genuinely superior. However, as I mentioned in my Beetlejuice comment - Burton heavily influenced my love of dark horror aesthetics before I was allowed to watch genuine horror films. Also, when I started getting into those - I grew up on the Hammer Dracula pictures. So when I heard that Burton was making an R-Rated send up to the Hammer pictures with a (loose, but still) adaptation of the classic Sleepy Hollow story - I went ape, and I loved the final results. It's a B-Movie no doubt; but it has an A-List cast and A-List production, and if you are into this sort of thing - it is pure entertainment from start to finish and is yet another one of my favourite films.

5. Frankenweenie (1984)

PG | 29 min | Short, Comedy, Drama

A young boy sets out to revive his dead pet using the monstrous power of science.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Shelley Duvall, Daniel Stern, Barret Oliver, Joseph Maher

Votes: 10,085

You can add this to Beetlejuice and the first Batman film being my exposure to Burton as a kid. I'm honestly ranking this one purely on memory, as I haven't seen it since I was a kid - but I know I loved it, and thinking about it does bring a smile to my face. I would actually say that this ranking doesn't fully count since I haven't seen it so long, so despite it being higher than some of Burton's films - don't think I'm saying this little short is better than them. I do want to find a copy again sometime, and I am actually kind of looking forward to Burton's full length version.. more than I can say for his upcoming adaptation of "Dark Shadows" >_>

6. Batman (1989)

PG-13 | 126 min | Action, Adventure

69 Metascore

The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl

Votes: 298,503 | Gross: $251.19M

Funny that two of the earliest films I remember seeing in the theatres as a kid (The other being Beetlejuice) are both creations of the same person. I may not have been around long enough to really realize the cultural revolution that took place regarding the Batman character and superheroes in the general public eye, but still I was around long enough to realize that Batman was immediately kick-ass; even if it is true that he does take something of a backseat to the villain, but the villain was just as interesting (if not more so) so I'm not really complaining. I love this movie lots and it's certainly nostalgic for me.

7. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

R | 116 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

83 Metascore

The infamous story of Benjamin Barker, aka Sweeney Todd, who sets up a barber shop in London which is the basis for a sinister partnership with his fellow tenant, Mrs. Lovett.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall

Votes: 309,747 | Gross: $52.90M

Awhile ago, I stumbled upon this funny diagram: http://images.cheezburger.com/completestore/2010/3/24/129139453986896953.png If that's true, my wife & I would have slaughtered quite a few people - but it's clear that if the two genres were to ever meet, the results would be pretty bleeding psychotic.

And it was. And it was glorious. I actually expected to hate this movie since it came out during Burton's massive downhill fall, plus I was unfamiliar with the musical Sweeney Todd and thought "That's a stupid idea for musical" and felt it should have just been a standard horror film at first, yet I went to see it as a cynic expecting to witness a glorious trainwreck and came out accepting it as one of my favourite films of 2007. Plus, as stated above - the horror aesthetic is something I have a huge thing for.

8. Mars Attacks! (1996)

PG-13 | 106 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi

52 Metascore

Earth is invaded by Martians with unbeatable weapons and a cruel sense of humor.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Annette Bening

Votes: 188,624 | Gross: $37.77M

NO ONE IS GOING TO AGREE WITH ME: Mars Attacks is awesome. A lot of people see it as one of Burton's worst films, and while I can't say it is his best - I happen to adore it. The B-Movie style was great, and the Martians themselves were a treat to watch. It is a shame that Burton was rushed with the effects and they certainly don't have the timelessness of any of his stop motion work in the visuals department, but for the time I remember thinking the effects were good; plus actually in retrospect, the cheesiness and outdated effects add a tiny bit of extra camp to sprinkle on an excellent piece of camp. I do feel that it could be better, I think there should have been more Martians and I feel that instead of focusing on a gaggle of mediocre human characters - they should have written at least a couple interesting ones and focused on them, either that or eschewed the use of human characters as much more than the supporting cast. Still, very underrated and a ton of goofy fun.

9. Corpse Bride (2005)

PG | 77 min | Animation, Drama, Family

83 Metascore

When a shy groom practices his wedding vows in the inadvertent presence of a deceased young woman, she rises from the grave assuming he has married her.

Directors: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson | Stars: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Tracey Ullman

Votes: 212,759 | Gross: $53.36M

I didn't like this one when I first saw it (Save for the always impressive Stop Motion) but after seeing it a couple more times, I liked it a little more each time. It's far from a film I'd add to a list of favourites, but it's enjoyable and any fan of stop motion will probably enjoy it. It's really hard to explain but outside of the premise and bizarre visual style, it never really felt like a Burton film to me when it came down to bare bones - it felt more like a somewhat odd Disney film, but not necessarily a bad one.

10. Batman Returns (1992)

PG-13 | 126 min | Action, Crime, Fantasy

68 Metascore

When a corrupt businessman and the grotesque Penguin plot to take control of Gotham City, only Batman can stop them, while the Catwoman has her own agenda.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken

Votes: 240,412 | Gross: $162.83M

As stated at least 80,000 times above - I love the darker and more grim horror aesthetics in Burton's films, and the bleak tone was something that helped Burton's Batman standout - but I feel he went a little overboard in Batman Returns, and I know a lot of people feel the same way and I feel pointing out the films flaws would be somewhat redundant since many before me have. Yet I do still enjoy the film a great deal and it does have many kickass scenes. Following this though, are films I don't think so highly of.

11. Planet of the Apes (2001)

PG-13 | 119 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

50 Metascore

In 2029, an Air Force astronaut crash-lands on a mysterious planet where evolved, talking apes dominate a race of primitive humans.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Roth, Michael Clarke Duncan

Votes: 195,076 | Gross: $180.01M

I have to respect this film... to a point. It is visually stunning (Then again what Burton film isn't?) and I actually did enjoy bits and pieces of it here and there, particularly the scenes in the Apes city/village (Whatever you want to call it) and I even liked some of the characters. But as everyone has pointed out a million times before, the "plot" of this film is insultingly vague and silly, and the ending is laugh inducing and inane. I don't hate it as much as some people do, but it's still far, far, FAR from a good film.

12. Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)

PG | 91 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family

47 Metascore

When eccentric man-child Pee-Wee Herman gets his beloved bike stolen in broad daylight, he sets out across the U.S. on the adventure of his life.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Paul Reubens, Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton, Diane Salinger

Votes: 44,757 | Gross: $40.90M

I've honestly never understood the appeal of this film or for that matter the character of Pee-Wee Herman. I know a lot of people who still love this film and I'm sorry, I just don't get it. Granted, it is well directed and the offbeat style does make it standout and unlike another, much much worse Pee-wee Herman film, it doesn't feel like a pandering kids film (And yes, I'm aware that Pee-wee didn't start as a character intended for children) and so I suppose I can't say it is "bad" for what it is; but it isn't a film I particularly care for.

13. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

PG | 115 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family

72 Metascore

A young boy wins a tour through the most magnificent chocolate factory in the world, led by the world's most unusual candy maker.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter

Votes: 365,724 | Gross: $206.46M

I kind of feel the same way about this film as I do Burton's Planet of the Apes; there are scenes I REALLY like, the visual aesthetic is fantastic, and there are some fun moments scattered about. Yet for some reason, everything else about this film really annoyed me. And no, I'm not just harping on it because of the obvious comparison to Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I'm harping on it based on its own merits as well as the Book; which I grew up on. Somewhat ironic that Burton's intent in making this film was to make right what the Wonka version "did wrong" yet in the end, it came out far different from even the source material - and not always in a good way. Still - he didn't trash it as much as...

14. Alice in Wonderland (I) (2010)

PG | 108 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

53 Metascore

Nineteen-year-old Alice returns to the magical world from her childhood adventure, where she reunites with her old friends and learns of her true destiny: to end the Red Queen's reign of terror.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway

Votes: 341,459 | Gross: $334.19M

Good GOD this was bad. I was really, really excited when I heard that Burton was doing Alice in Wonderland. I've had a strange fascination with the Alice stories and the strange reactions they garner from people, and it seems that over the years whenever people reinterpret the stories they end up being too whimsical or too blatantly dark - and so I figured Tim Burton of all people would find the middleground, capturing the somewhat dark and eerie undertones of childhood insanity with the whimsical and fun nature of the characters and rhymes found in the stories. I wasn't expecting this inane piece of crap though. It absolutely looks fantastic, but in a way that's adding insult to injury because when I saw screenshots; my excitement doubled. Ugh.